Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Postcards from the Abyss

No doubt as writers we have all come to our own abysses on the path to publication or death - whichever comes first. And God knows there are as many different kinds of abysses as there are writers. So I thought I would tell you a bit about my abyss if you'll tell me a bit about yours.

I am presently looking at revising my 2009 Golden Heart finalist manuscript - The Raven's Heart. For the THIRD TIME !! I have a great agent. I really do. I mean she has read this book so many times she knows every change in every version by heart. She has committed portions of it to memory. (Whether this is an act of will or whether the sheer mind-numbing experience of going over it with a fine-tooth comb time, after time, after time has driven some of the prose into her skull lobotomy style, I will never know.)

The set of revisions before me are things she and I arrived at together. I have them all outlined in a nice neat outline. Don't I, Jeanie? And truth be told IF I can get these changes incorporated smoothly and seamlessly into this manuscript the consensus is that the book will be fabulous - haunting, Gothic, romantic, exciting and smoking hot. That is one great big filling up the entire abyss IF !! I mean even my critique partner loved the ideas and she is NOT easy to please. (Think of the Godzilla of mother-in-laws meets Mommie Dearest. She is ONE TOUGH COOKIE to please!) The fact that she loved the first version of the book may have something to do with that.

However, once she finished waxing poetic about how great these revisions were going to make the book (Godzilla, I mean, my CP) she shot me an e-mail the next day and said "I just looked over these revisions again and this is going to be a monumental task." Gulp !! MO NU MEN TAL !! No pressure there!

So, here I sit, with my agent anxiously awaiting this fabulous revised version of a book she already loves and I stand at the edge of the abyss and do .... nothing. Yep, not a word in a week. I've made notes about where to WRITE those revisions, places that need to be revised, places where the cool new elements need to go. I've read the latest version of the manuscript and made copious notes. And what do I actually have on the page? NADA ZILCH NOTHING. Just me, standing at the edge of the abyss wondering how the heck to eat this big elephant sitting on my desk.

So, there's my abyss. How about yours? What is it and how do you jump over it? Or into it? Or fill it up so you can just walk over it. I'll be sitting here in the corner with a knife, a fork, a big napkin tied around my neck and seriously contemplating exactly how much ketchup it is going to take to get this elephant to go down. I think I hear Godzilla coming down from Oklahoma. Gotta run !!


Callie James said...

Abyss! I saw that word and knew this blog was for me!

In 2008 I wrote the first in a trilogy in 4 months. In 2009 I started the second in the trilogy and I still haven't finished it. It feels like an abyss each time I pull it up. Like you, I know exactly what I need to do. I know the scenes by heart.

Doesn't seem to matter. It feels endless.

Luckily, I'm taking a leap over that abyss to tackle another project burning a hole in my brain and then I'll get back to it.

When I figure out how to deal with my own abyss, I'll most definitely share. Right now avoidance is working pretty well.

I figure a contract would be a shot in the arm. Again, that's theory. I couldn't tell you because THAT hasn't happened yet either.

But I digress.

Now I'm depressed thinking about my abyss. Misery loves company, I guess.

Beth Trissel said...

I don't know about this misery loves company thing. Whew, I think you must have sent everyone leaping into the abyss. I'm teetering on the edge myself, just need to write that sequel, errr trilogy...right after edits to this first book. I'm not much of one for plotting. I try, but in the end just have to write my way through it with a lot of caffeine and treats, dark chocolate, of course. Write a page, or a paragraph, get a treat. Good girl, sit.
Ahhhhhhhhh.....voice trailing off from the abyssssss.

Keli Gwyn said...

Cyber hugs, Louisa. Having recently rewritten 70K of a 100K story, I can understand you must be mighty tired of revisions. They are a lot of work. But, looking at things from a positive slant, it's kinda fun watching a story go from great to awesome.

So, Louisa, here's to your revisions and some major league AWESOMENESS!

Louisa Cornell said...

See now Beth, I like your version of the abyss better. I could do that. Work for chocolate, I mean. Of course, I would have to reward myself for every paragraph at this point which means I will be shopping for clothes for Nationals at Circus Tents R Us !!

And Callie I have to agree that a contract might serve as an EXCELLENT motivator to step AWAY from the ABYSS !!

Louisa Cornell said...

Commiserations, Keli on the rewrites! You are so close now I just KNOW your call is coming!

And hey, this will all be worthwhile if I can get even a little bit of awesomeness!

Liz H. said...


I have to agree with Keli - my motivation is seeing the improvement in the end. It gets me going when I don't want to edit. But I also tackle the edis I'm in the mood for at any given time - I start with the easy stuff; or I pick an "editing exercise" like tightening up a scene to get me in editing mode and then I move on to what I really need to do. I also agree with Beth - chocolate rewards work on me, too!

Good luck with the book! I know you can do it, my Pixie Pal!

Jeanie said...


You can do this. You are a fabulous writer with more plot twists and angst and drama in your pinkie toe than I have in my entire body. Piece 'o cake, my friend. Maybe 'o piece of cake that may be the tiniest bit stale at this point, but a piece 'o cake nonetheless.

This is going to be an AWESOME book. I had my doubts at the beginning of this saga, but I have to admit I think Kim is on to something here. Sit your butt down at the computer and do it. Take small bites. Nibble, gnaw, hold your nose and chew. Just choke it down somehow. Or else. I'm a LOT closer than Oklahoma and I have really big feet. Erin is Godzookie compared to me. Don't make me ugly. Write the damn book.

Jeanie said...

Uh, sorry. I mean write the DARN book. Did I say that out loud?

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh hugs, Louisa. But, as a writer who has faced the abyss of revisions numerous times in the past year, I have to say that what you are feeling is NORMAL. Sometimes it takes a while for everything to kick in and for you to get started. I have sat on revisions for a while myself. It's normal.

You'll get it done. Start when you're ready, and know you aren't alone. :) You are following in the time honored footsteps of lots of writers before you! And you can do it. :)

Christine said...

A bit of a brain break is not a bad idea. I am doing my own massive revision by approaching it in bits and pieces. Otherwise I feel too overwhelmed. ANd it's during the breaks that small snippets come to me--tiny solutions and plot points ironing out one wrinkle at a time.

You can do this! You will do this! And you will succeed!!

Now, back to my own POS... Stay tuned.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Louisa,

I don't have any great advice for you. Mostly I just veer in the opposite direction of an abyss! Or stop writing altogether for months at a time. This method would not work if I had an agent or editor. LOL.

As long as you feel this isn't compromising your story, then I'm sure you can do it - one step at a time. Maybe you need to decide first if you agree with the new direction she wants the story to take. Could that be the reason you're stalling?

And if you need a little time off before braving the beast, give yourself that time! You are the driver of your own life.

Best wishes,


Gwen Hernandez said...

You can do it, Louisa. I get overwhelmed if I think about the project as a whole, but if I break it down to scenes, or even paragraphs it helps.

Like, "I'll just write this one scene where she finds out XXX." Then, a lot of times my juices get going and I keep writing, and if not, I've still done something.

I do agree with Susan that you need to feel it's the right direction before you dig in, though.

Good luck finding a bridge!

M.V.Freeman said...

OOOH Louisa!
Yes, I feel your pain...HUGE pain...

All I can say is "One bite at a time"

Even now, I am pulling out what is left of my hair as I revise.....

You can do this!